By: Rachel L. MSW, LMSW
Social work pioneer Dr. Helen Rehr has passed away at the age of 93. Dr. Rehr received her BA from Hunter College in 1940, her MSW from Columbia University in 1945 and her DSW, also from Columbia, in 1970.
Dr. Rehr was a dedicated teacher, researcher and advocate for the profession. She spent much of career working for Mt. Sinai Medical Center where she guided the social work department to national prominence as one of the best in the United States. Dr. Rehr specialized in health and mental health; having authored or co-authored more then 100 studies, books, and reports. Her written work includes:
• Social Work-Medicine Relationship: 100 Years at Mount Sinai by Helen Rehr, Gary Rosenberg (Editor)
• Creative Social Work in Health Care: Challenges for the Profession By Helen Rehr (Editor), Susan Blumenfield (Editor), Gary Rosenberg (Editor)
• Professional Accountability for Social Work Practice By Helen Rehr
Dr. Rehr was a key player in establishing the Mt. Sinai Leadership Exchange Program and was also a visiting professor at University of Pennsylvania, Ben Gurion University, Hebrew University, and Haifa University.
Aside from her scholarly work Dr. Rehr was a active member of the National Association of Social Workers, having served as a founding member of the NASW National Center for Social Policy and Practice. She was named as a Social Work Pioneer by the NASW Foundation; in fact she chaired the New York City Social Work Pioneers and was a member of the National Social Work Pioneer steering committee. Among her numerous honors is the Ida M. Cannon award from the Society for Hospital Social Work Directors, the NASW Foundation Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award in Health and Mental Health, and the Columbia Alumni Federation’s Distinguished Service Alumni Medal. In 2010 the Helen Rehr Center for Social Work Practice was named in in her honor.
Dr. Rehr continued to work as a professor of community medicine emerita and as a consultant on social and health research, education, and program planning at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and Medical Center until her passing.